For The Trees
Who is our economy FOR, anyway?
About the Authors:
BEST OF STF:
Articles not at STF:
The ATLA Speech on building a progressive infrastructure
Lowering the Bar
The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law
Who's Behind the Attack on Liberal Professors
On the Right and their communications infrastructure:
Why Republicans Win
Win or Lose
The "Conventional Wisdom" Machine
Some History of the Conservative Movement
HOW TO FIGHT BACK
An Amplifier Of Our Own
Don't Blame the Democrats
How They Do It 1 2 3 4
You're Gonna Get Drafted
Scalia and Self-Government
Who is Our Economy For?
Voting Machine Story Link Collection
What's Wrong with this Picture? (Voting Machines)
Like Meat in the Supermarket
Thin Line 1 2 3
Fixing Social Security
Seeing the Forest I, II, III
"Incredibly Positive News"
The Breadth of It
The Republican Crony Club
Ralph Nader is a Scab
John's Best Of:
Kerry Smear Page
9/11 Commission Report Damages Bush -- if you read it
Florida Goon Squad Intimidated the Supreme Court
The Use and Abuse of George Orwell
Zizka's Archives (John's previous identity)
Information Clearing House
What REALLY Happened
Links to Other Weblogs:
MY Meme! MINE!
Dept. of Who is the Economy For? over at Sideshow. That's MY meme! MINE! ME ME ME ME ME!
"We Are In Baghdad Now"
frontline: truth, war and consquences: introduction | PBS:
"When asked if he feels any unease or discomfort at the fact that some Americans feel the United States was suckered into a war under the false pretenses of disarming Saddam of weapons of mass destruction, Chalabi replies, 'No. ... We are in Baghdad now.'"You've got to learn not to listen to anything they say, and look only at what they are actually doing. They are in Baghdad now.
Other examples - taxes on the rich greatly reduced, others like the estate tax just eliminated; the taxes the rest of us pay are going out as contracts and payments to campaign contributors; Medicare gone in a few years; legislation is now entirely one-party; the massive deficits mean that our Social Security is already gone; environmental laws decimated; the courts taken over by the Federalist Society... All the words are just smokescreens for what they are accomplishing.
They are in Baghdad now.
What's The Difference?
Wampum has some funny "What's the difference?" examples up, in the post titled, "Half Full."
But before reading that, click at the top of the Wampum page to nominate your favorite lefty weblog for a Koufax award.
Why Did Bush Invade Iraq?
Parts of Patriot Act II Have Already Become Law
I can't believe this:
On December 13, when U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein, President George W. Bush not only celebrated with his national security team, but also pulled out his pen and signed into law a bill that grants the FBI sweeping new powers. A White House spokesperson explained the curious timing of the signing - on a Saturday - as "the President signs bills seven days a week." But the last time Bush signed a bill into law on a Saturday happened more than a year ago - on a spending bill that the President needed to sign, to prevent shuttng down the federal government the following Monday.
I'm at a loss for words folks. W's administration has now sunk to absolutely unparalleled depths of dishonesty -- they're now purposefully hiding legislation that curtails civil liberties from the public.
The author of this piece, David Martin, asks the right question:
The Bush Administration has yet to answer pivotal questions about its latest constitutional coup: If these new executive powers are necessary to protect United States citizens, then why would the legislation not withstand the test of public debate? If the new act's provisions are in the public interest, why use stealth in ramming them through the legislative process?
I really don't know what else to say folks.
Quarantine? Don't They Know What Mad Cow Disease IS?
U.S. Quarantines Calves From Diseased Cow:
U.S. officials have quarantined two calves from the Washington cow with mad cow disease, even though transmission of the disease from mother to calf is considered unlikely.Quarantine? Mad Cow disease is not an infectious virus! Quarantining the cows doesn't do ANYTHING to prevent the disease from spreading. Are they trying to make the public think they're doing something about this? How about ACTUALLY doing something about it? How about banning the feeding of dead sick animals to other animals? How about banning the feeding of animals AT ALL to vegetarian animals?! DUH!
From Wealth Bondage:
"Seeing the Forrest: "We need to break up the rich white mens' club and get the money circulating again. The way to do that is to bring back very high taxes at the top, and estate taxes, and use the money to strengthen 'the commons' -- our public resources and human resources. Education, hospitals, health care, roads, infrastructure, arts and quality of life." I notice that this guy has a free piece of crap blogspot blog. Gotta tell you something about this loser's chances of success. Maybe we winners should take up a collection buy him a real blog. Sad, really. No wonder he is into income redistribution. I'd ship his job to China, if he had one."A collection to buy me things? Not a bad idea actually. I like it.
Readers - you want to understand Wealth Bondage before you'll understand this post. Here's a clue, a comment left by the author:
"Always a pleasure to see you gnash your teeth in impotent rage. My contribution to the greater good is setting an example for others to emulate. People look up to me, as they did to the Pope in the Dark Ages. I give them hope. Instead of alms, I strew my blessing. "Go little sheep gently to your pens that thou might be fleeced."In the spirit of the times, for sure.
Everything I'm Reading
Everything I'm reading about our nation's meat inspection system and (lack of) efforts to prevent "mad cow" from infecting people tells me that profits not only came before concerns for public safety, but that profits were the only concern, and safety was no concern. These people running our government do not care about us at all. The people managing industries like the beef industry care only about tomorrow's profits. Their shortsighted greed may have destroyed their entire industry.
This story, for example, is worth reading. Expert Warned That Mad Cow Was Imminent,
"Ever since he identified the bizarre brain-destroying proteins that cause mad cow disease, Dr. Stanley Prusiner, a neurologist at the University of California at San Francisco, has worried about whether the meat supply in America is safe.
If the fates allow
Tom reminds me of the only Christmas song I like.
Go Read This!
As my pal Chuck says, it's brilliant.
Be sure to read the comments that follow from the wingnuts -- they're hilarious.
And, of course, after you're done reading this bit of brilliance, be sure to have yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
Happy Holidogs from the Johnsons!
Top, left to right, Duke, Percy, Buddy, anonymous
Bottom, left to right, Espresso, anonymous, anonymous, Hannah
(Card by Sudeep)
Taking Over The Democratic Party
LiberalOasis talks about where to go from here, now that liberals seem to be getting control of the Democratic party again:
"We must phrase our arguments -- whether on TV, in the blogosphere, in letters to the editor, or in personal conversations – in ways that find common ground and speak to the fundamental concerns and hopes of non-liberals."This is something I've been thinking about lately. We have to recognize how far from our own thinking most Americans are at this point. As just one example, MOST Americans still think that Iraq was behind the 9/11 attack. How do we break through that? We don't do it by just repeating that Bush is a liar. We don't do it by expressing anger. We have to make a solid, positive case when talking to people who have had no source of information beyond Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, and the corporate media. There's a lot of work to do.
Now It's a Scandal - New evidence that a House GOP leader offered a bribe.:
"What does a guy have to do to get a congressional bribe investigated? Even making allowances for slow readers, John Ashcroft's Justice Department is taking an awfully long time to decide whether to do anything about the (unsuccessful) attempt to bribe Rep. Smith. "More here.
By the way, what happened to the investigation of the White House outing an undercover CIA agent?
And Ken Lay, what's up with him? The worst corporate scandal in American history, and the guy is still running loose?
Oh yeah, what about Bush's insider trading at Harken Energy? And the inveswtigation of Cheney's corruption at Halliburton? And he's still getting payments from Halliburton -- isn't that against government ethics rules?
The Day Before Christmas
Typically this would be Friday news - buried over the weekend. But this is a BIG story, so it gets Christmas Eve. Administration Is Exempting Alaska Forest From Protection: (Washington Post version here, this link won't go away...)
"The Bush administration announced on Tuesday that the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, the largest in the country, would be exempted from a Clinton-era rule, potentially opening up more than half of the 17 million-acre forest for more development and as many as 50 logging projects."And how did this come about?
"The decision stems from the settlement of a lawsuit between Alaska and the federal government over the so-called roadless rule, which prohibited the building of roads in 58.5 million acres of undeveloped national forest across the country.Got that? It was a set-up. The right-wingers in Alaska sue the Bush government, the Bush government agrees to "settle," giving the Alaskan right-wingers everything they ask for. (Does this remind you of the Microsoft "settlement"?)
Be sure to talk about this over Christmas dinner. (And don't eat the roast beef!)
The Cloud Minders of River Oaks
I’m back from a trip to Bushland. I just returned from a family wedding in Houston over the weekend. Every time I visit my relatives in Houston it’s quite an interesting experience for me. (For my musings about last year's visit, go here.) My relatives in Houston have all become Republicans in the last twenty years or so. They were all Great Society liberals who supported LBJ in the 1960s but have since become, like most well-off white Texans, diehard Republicans who believe Bill Clinton is the anti-Christ. It’s a rather shocking transformation that has taken place during my lifetime.
My family in Houston often travels in some very interesting circles. The wedding was in the late morning on Saturday. It was followed by a jazz brunch reception at one of the hipper places in tony River Oaks. At one point I looked out at the bitter looks on the faces of the wealthy Houstonians eating Eggs Benedict. These folks had driven up in all manner of expensive cars (scores of BMWs, Mercedes, and Lexuses were on hand) and were clearly doing quite well financially. I thought to myself, “What a sour bunch!” My father said, almost as if reading my mind, “But these are the beautiful people.” I said, “Oh my goodness, really? They don’t look beautiful, they look unhappy.” He later wisecracked, “Besides everyone at this table, do you think Dean would get one vote out of the remaining fifty people in this room? These are the quintessential Bushies.” An interesting point, eh?
The next morning, as I still pondered the prior day’s experience, I watched an episode of Star Trek (the Original Series) entitled “The Cloud Minders.” In it, the Enterprise and its crew travel to a world in which there are two social classes, the ruling class that lives above the clouds in a city called Stratos and the worker class that worked extracting a mineral called zienite, on the planet‘s surface. The two classes have been separated for so long that they’ve evolved into very different groups of people who can scarcely talk with each other -- both viewing the other with extreme suspicion and, not surprisingly, no empathy whatsoever.
Later the same day I went to a family Christmas Party. Recently, a cousin and her husband bought two residences, each worth in excess of a million dollars. Unfortunately, they were forced to sell one of them because, shucks, they really couldn’t afford that second one! They apparently were teetering on the financial edge just a few short months ago. Over the last few months, I’ve listened to several very compassionate descriptions of their predicament from my relatives. Their situation, however, seemed like a ridiculous and quite preventable one to me. Those of us who have houses that cost under six figures often find such stories of woe hilarious actually. The funniest part was when the cousin in question passed by at the Christmas Party wearing a $10,000 Rolex watch. After seeing the watch, my wife leaned over and said “I’ve got an answer to their problems! Can you say “Pawn Shop?”
Other topics of conversation from the Christmas Party included David Letterman’s possible leftist liberal leanings and how trial lawyers are going to destroy the medical system in this country. (During this discussion, one of my aunts, a small business owner, stated rather matter-of-factly that she’d never paid for health insurance for any of her employees during the last twenty five years.) I also learned that the courts were just out there to harass good taxpaying citizens by allowing nuisance lawsuits. In short, while my relatives were apparently filled with compassion for my cousin (who I honestly believe doesn’t deserve it), they apparently had little compassion for, well anyone else, especially those who couldn’t afford medical insurance or anyone who might file a lawsuit.
So, what’s the point of this post? Well, the whole experience has really gotten me to thinking about how the social classes in American really don‘t have much contact with each other these days. Those of the higher classes therefore have very little compassion for anyone else. The policies of this current administration certainly drive this point home quite effectively. While happily cutting taxes and helping their rich friends and contributors with tax breaks and credits, members of this well-heeled administration has done very little for anyone else who isn’t from their privileged class.
This is not a new problem either. Through a rather bizarre quirk of fate, I study wealthy elites in the Gilded Age and I see the same phenomenon in that era over and over again. Those of you who read my blog know that I returned to this idea rather often. Just as it is today, wealthy elites who were then effectively in charge of the most morally bankrupt political era in our history approached government the very same way. There were always plenty of goodies for their contributors and buddies but very little for anyone else.
My rather depressing conclusion? While there are notable (and brief) exceptions like the Progressive Era and New Deal, genuine compassion for your fellow man is not something that I would say is really a hallmark of the upper classes in American history. As social classes have become more distinct and isolated from one another in this country over the last century, empathy from those at the top has truly become a rather rare phenomenon. It was possible for a patrician like Theodore or Franklin Roosevelt to understand the problems of the working-class. However, a century later, it has become harder for those at the higher echelons of American society today, suffering from several decades’ worth of indoctrination with the modern-day version of Social Darwinist ideology, to do the same.
Like the Cloud Minders of Stratos or the wealthy elites of the Gilded Age, Texans from W’s patrician class apparently lack empathy for the poor or anyone outside their class.
At the very least, this lack of empathy explains much about the world view of the Bushies and their domestic policies, doesn’t it?
"In the week ending Dec. 20, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 353,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 354,000."Here's the UNADJUSTED number: ETA Press Release: Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report,
"The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 423,782 in the week ending Dec. 20, an increase of 11,248 from the previous week."
Blogs for Bush: TIME gets it right for "Person of the Year"
Over at Blogs for Bush they're complaining that Time included a black soldier on the cover, saying making the American Soldier "person of the year" was"probably the best choice, despite their politically correct cover."
U.S. Beef Industry To End Now?
Yahoo! News - Report: Japan Bans U.S. Beef Imports.
Things are going to happen fast now. By the time we wake up tomorrow there will be no beef industry in the US. This is because we have no real inspection system -- the corporations have bought off the government -- and our Agriculture Secretary is corporate lobbyist Ann Veneman.
Look what happens when we have put the corporations in charge of regulating themselves! NO ONE is going to trust anything the government says about this, and they shouldn't. And WE shouldn't, either! Are YOU going to eat beef now, or ever again in your life? (I haven't for years, of course.)
Here's an earlier post about the US beef industry. Sorry that you can't access the NY Times articles anymore.
Update - Korea.
Update - I'm going to elevate Richard's comment:
"Everybody remember this for when wingnuts complain about how bad regulation is for business: Putting corporate toadies in charge of regulation is BAD FOR BUSINESS. Not just bad, but catastrophic."Update - I just heard on the news that they slaughtered this cow and sent its meat to be used in animal feed before getting the test results. The idiots. The greedy fucking idiots set up the procedures to allow this to happen, for a few extra dollars. And in light of this I'm elevating a comment from Thomas' previous post below:
"The Swiss segment of my family has been dairy farmers forever and you don't slaughter a "downed" cow, you burn it and everything associated with it, and then you clorox the barn.Update - More here: USDA refused to release mad cow records,
"In addition, former USDA veterinarians tell UPI they have long suspected the disease was in U.S herds and there are probably additional infected animals.They let the fox guard the food inspection henhouse. Now we're all fucked. It DOES matter who you vote for!
Morning Update - Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine and South Africa. "The 15-nation European Union has long banned the import of most U.S. beef because of health concerns over cattle treated with growth hormones, allowing in a limited quantity of the meat from the United States."
Mad Cow Disease reaches U.S. - “not terrorist related”
[Uh... why do the first words out of the mouths of our government officials these days have to be "does not appear to be terrorist related"? -Thomas]
First Case of Suspected Mad Cow found in U.S.
Dec. 23, 2003
The first U.S. case of suspected mad cow disease was found in an animal in Washington State the USDA announced tonight. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman said that a single "downer" Holstein cow that was either sick or injured and intended for rendering, not food processing, tested presumptively positive for the brain-wasting illness. The farm in Mabton, WA, about 40 miles southeast of Yakima, has been quarantined and meat from other animals in the herd are being traced for testing. The USDA will hold daily briefings on its investigation.
[Read the Reuter's AlertNet article. The animal was a "downer" ... i.e., it wasn't moving (i.e. it was obviously sick) when it was slaughtered. They singled it out for testing, then they proceeded to process the meat!!! God damn, I'm happy I'm a vegetarian!!! You'd think that common sense would dictate that the meat be quarantined until the test results came back... god forbid we do anything to impact the profitability of the beef industry, I guess.
Hmm... we banned all import of Canadian beef due to a single BSE case earlier this year... what do you think the current administration is going to say if Canada suggests they take similar action?!?
There's A New "Bat" Up
The Dean campaign is typing to raise $1.5 million by Dec. 31. Click on the left to contribute!
What's The Difference
Eric Alterman is playing "What's the Difference?"
"DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still --Play here.
So I thought up a few: To my wife: "Was I cleaning the yard, or was I thinking about cleaning the yard?" "What's the difference?"
To the IRS: "Did I pay my taxes on time, or was I going to pay my taxes when I damn well felt like it?" "What's the difference, leave me alone."
We should make this as widespread as "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.
This Threat Looks Serious
U.S. Officials Face Array of Possible Plots:
"Unlike past elevations of the terrorism threat level, the decision to raise the alert to orange this time was unanimous and decisive, because it was based on what senior Bush administration officials described as the most alarming, credible and specific information they had ever seen.My own indicator of the seriousness of the threat -- that it wasn't another threat just for political purposes -- was that it followed Dean's statement that capturing Saddam has not made us any safer. Rove would NEVER allow the government to confirm that, so someone must have overridden Rove on this.
But the stock market continues to go up. What are they thinking?
FDA - Price Enforcement Arm Of The Drug Companies
I've said before that the FBI is the investigative arm of The Party, the Justice Department is the domestic enforcement arm and the military is The Party's foreign enforcement arm.
Now, many of the agencies have become The Party'srevenue arms, handing out contract, tax cuts or favors to campaign contributors. Here's an example: U.S. Forbids Drug Imports by Illinois.
Combine this with the recent Medicare "reform" bill prohibiting Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices, and we have the Drug Price Enforcement Arm of the drug companies in action.
Vast profits come from pumping just a few million into The Party and its propaganda arm, The Wurlitzer.
Terror Threat Up, Stock Market, Too
Why is the stock market rising along with the terror threat level? Does Wall Street know something that we don't?
Remember the administration's plans for a terrorism threat futures market? The idea was that the perfection of the market would lead to better indicators of where terrorists would strike, etc... The wingnuts believe in The Market as a religion, and believe that by setting up markets where greedheads can place bets on things like terrorist strikes, we can watch where people are placing their bets, and that will show us what is going to happen.
Well, here's a terrorist threat, and here's the stock market. It's supposed to be the worst threat since 9/11. But the stock market went UP today.
I know that the Bush administration has so politicized national security that their credibility is zero with half the country -- but the stock market doesn't even pay attention to them anymore? The stock market believes that they put out terrorist threats for political reasons?
We need to get these clowns out of office for our own protection. What if this is a REAL threat? What if the next one is? We need an administration that people trust.
Fighting For Whose Country?
I've been hearing praise of the soldiers who "died for their country." Now that the President's justification for the Iraq war has changed -- now that it was a war to "free the Iraqi people" instead of a war to protect us from an imminent threat -- how does this square with soldiers "dying for their country? Iraq wasn't their country. Did they sign up to free Iraqis?
I've been hearing that our soldiers are "fighting to preserve our freedom." Now that the President's justification for the Iraq war was that it was a war to "free the Iraqi people," how does "freeing the Iraqi people" preserve OUR freedom?
I'm complaining about the lies, not about the good this has done for Iraqis. (Iraqi men, anyway, not women.)
Workers In Iraq
Everybody, everybody, everybody, please go read this:Whiskey Bar: Right to Work State.
Then think about what the Bush Administration is planning for a second term HERE.
Long Past Time For Some Changes
Democrats Forced To Work on Margins (washingtonpost.com):
"The The Republicans' aggressive moves caught the Democrats off guard. Although they had come to expect tough GOP tactics in the House, they were stunned when the strategies moved to the Senate, where relations between the parties have been less confrontational. Some Democrats now regret they did not react more quickly and aggressively."Didn't catch ME "off guard." I understood what The Party was all about. I knew that the Republicans had declared war on half of the country. I knew it years ago. And when you're in a war, you want leadership that at the very least recognizes there's a war going on.
""We never imagined they would not include all conferees" in the negotiations, Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said in an interview as the session was ending. "Our mistake was we didn't insist on inclusion" before key bills were sent to conference for final drafting, he added."Sounds like it's time for Tom to go.
Democrats "probably should have done more" to protest the Medicare negotiations and will be "much more resolute" in confronting future GOP tactics, said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who played a pivotal role in the Democrats' response to the Medicare legislation."Sounds like it's time for Teddy to go.
"On Medicare, Democrats see plenty of blame to go around.DEFINITELY time for Max and John to go!
And good riddance Zell!
New Economy: Offshore Jobs in Technology: Opportunity or a Threat?:
"So what is really happening? Is the offshore outsourcing of technology jobs a cataclysmic jolt or a natural evolution of the economy?Man, oh man. I'll tell you. I've learned that when people start talking about a "new economy" it's time to run and hide. "We have to move up the technology food chain." What the fuck does that even MEAN?
All the experts say that the old, "low skill" jobs like software engineer will be replaced by new jobs that we don't even know about yet. Well, it's a FACT that I don't know about the new jobs, because here in Silicon Valley we SURE haven't seen them yet. The argument seems to be that because sometimes in the past new kinds of jobs have shown up to replace the jobs that were lost, therefore new jobs will always show up. Personally, I'm not one to place my bets on an angel showing up and waving a wand and making everything better. I'm more one for planning what to do in case that doesn't happen.
It's supposed to be a good thing when we find ways to get more work done using fewer people:
"In an information economy, technology services are an "input'' in the same way that steel, glass and rubber are parts of a car. So reducing the cost of technology services curbs inflation while improving efficiency and productivity. A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that every dollar of costs that United States companies move offshore yields a benefit of $1.12 to $1.14 to the American economy, mainly from cost savings and steering workers toward jobs that add more value than those replaced."The problem now is this money is not being distributed past the top floor. Instead of paying workers more, the money is going to the top. The concentration of wealth is accelerating. YOU AND I are not benefiting from the changes in the economy, while a few are becoming vastly richer.
The solution? We need to break up the rich white mens' club and get the money circulating again. The way to do that is to bring back very high taxes at the top, and estate taxes, and use the money to strengthen "the commons" -- our public resources and human resources. Education, hospitals, health care, roads, infrastructure, arts and quality of life.
We also need to change the way our corporations are chartered to being back the idea that they exist to benefit the public at large. Perhaps we should require that representatives of workers sit on the boards of corporations. A personal favorite solution is to ban corporations from using money for anything that does not directly benefit shareholders. This means no more political contributions, and contributions to "think tanks" and other fronts for political operations. This would help lessen the influence of money on our democracy, returning us closer to one-person-one-vote instead of one-dollar-one-vote.
What do you think?
Suddenly the Right finds it useful to stop claiming it was an aspirin factory: The Clinton View of Iraq-al Qaeda Ties.
How will this mesh with their claim that Clinton did nothing about al-Queda? AND with their claim that the attack on the chemical plant was a "wag the dog" effort to deflect attention from Monica?
Anyway, it looks like they're trying SO hard to justify invading Iraq that they're willing to let go of one of their anti-Clinton myths. Or, perhaps, they just expect the public not to make the connection.
Yahoo! News - Saddam was held by Kurdish forces, drugged and left for US troops
Yahoo! News - Saddam was held by Kurdish forces, drugged and left for US troops. I saw this at Debka a week ago, but didn't pay much attention. Here's another source, with what looks like confirmation.
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I took out the Amazon "donate button" because they are a red company, helping fund the right.
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